Social cognitive neuroscience is the study of the neurobiological systems underlying effective social behaviour. The neural processes supporting effective social interactions in everyday life and the consequences of dysfunction in these processes have been the focus of intense research over the last two decades. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the identification of social cognitive deficits in neurodegenerative conditions and their neural basis may provide a better understanding of the behavioural changes observed in these disorders. In addition, accumulating data suggest that detection of early impairment in social cognitive skills may aid in the early diagnosis of cognitive or behavioural impairment in some of these disorders, and may even play a role in the investigation of new therapeutic options. In this review, we outline the basic components of social cognitive processing, provide a systematic review of the literature pertaining to common neurodegenerative conditions, discuss current controversies and make recommendations for future research.